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Luxury watches seize the moment in China

CHINA is "less affected by the economic downturn than other parts of the world," according to some luxury watch brands that want to seize the moment.

"I think we are still 'new' to most Chinese customers who are willing to try new things," says Jean-Sebastien Gerondeau, managing director of Officine Panerai Asia Pacific. "Also, we target a specific niche clientele, most of whom are watch collectors."

The Italian watchmaker launched a series of new self-developed movements at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) 2009 in Switzerland earlier this year. Now, it thinks it's high time to introduce them to China.

An exhibition is underway at Plaza 66 to showcase the brand's history, signature pieces from the past and all its in-house movements launched since 2005. The exhibition is the first of its kind Officine Panerai has organized on Chinese mainland and it will be moved to Hong Kong and other cities of the country.

The highlights include a recent replica of the watch house's legendary Egiziano (Egyptian), which was created in the 1950s and supplied to the underwater commandos of the Egyptian Navy, and a limited edition timepiece designed for this year's Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge.

Meanwhile, Swiss top watch manufacturer Vacheron Constantin invites watch lovers to visit its Shanghai Maison in a beautiful old building on Huaihai Road M., where they can learn about the development of chronograph watches over more than 100 years through 31 vintage pieces on display.

Chronograph is from the Greek word chronos or time, and graphos or writing; thus it literally means a "time-writer." Ever since it was invented in 1821 by Frenchman Nicolas Mathieu Rieussec for use in horse racing, it has been sought after by watch enthusiasts worldwide. Today, it has become more like a high fashion accessory than a time recording device. Among the exhibits, there is a split-seconds chronograph pocket watch made of silver and red gold dating back to 1889 and a minute-repeater, split-seconds chronograph and half-chronometer pocket watch with white enamel dial made in 1895.

Officine Panerai

Date: through May 24, 10am-10pm

Venue: 1/F, Plaza 66, 1266 Nanjing Rd W.

Vacheron Constantin

Date: daily, through September

Venue: 2/F, Vacheron Constantin Shanghai Maison, 796 Huaihai Rd M.


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